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Who The Hollywood Reporter thinks are producers worthy of notice — and why you should question that

Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Each year during awards season, The Hollywood Reporter organizes a series of roundtable interviews -- two featuring actors (separated by gender), another with directors and yet another with producers -- and the conversations center on moviemaking broadly and their (maybe nominated) projects in particular. The interviews are filmed and in recent years they've started airing on Sundance.

Some participants are more frank than others, but there's usually an interesting tidbit or two that emerges.

The interviews function as a barometer of what The Hollywood Reporter (and by extension, Hollywood in general) values. These roundtables are a mark of prestige -- of whose work matters.

Some quick thoughts on the producer roundtable that aired this past weekend:

-- Every producer on the panel is white; all are men except one.

That's a conscious choice by THR. The charitable assumption is that they simply wanted a sampling of producers who worked on what THR considers "major" movies of the past year. But the end result reinforces the idea that the old boys club is normal.

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The roundtable participants: Judd Apatow (for "The Big Sick"), Jason Blum ("Get Out"), Eric Fellner ("Darkest Hour"), Amy Pascal ("The Post"), Seth Rogen ("The Disaster Artist") and Ridley Scott ("Blade Runner 2049" and "All the Money in the World")

It's always a bit of a juggling act to coordinate the schedules of high-powered players; that probably complicates who ends up at the table.

Still, there's no reason not to include a broader selection of white women and people of color, whether their films are in Oscar contention or not -- for the very reason that it would have been more compelling to hear a variety of producers discuss their work experiences. (And Blum, Fellner and Pascal are the only true producers at the table; meaning, they aren't also actors or directors.)

THR isn't new to this -- nor is it unaware of these criticisms. None of these publications are, but the same pattern keeps repeating: Vanity Fair, which has a long track record of assembling mostly white stars on the cover of its annual Hollywood issue; the LA Times Magazine, which has roundtables of its own this year featuring actors and actresses, all of whom are white.

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